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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter Vacation Highlights (2)

I mentioned in the first winter vacation highlights post that we stayed at the exclusive Cypress Lakes outside of Lakeland, Florida. The beautiful grounds feature two spectacular golf courses surrounded by beautifully kept manufactured homes. I'm telling you one look at these houses both inside and out with dispel any myth you have about manufactured homes. They are stunning!

Orange Tree

The main mode of transportation around the ground is via golf cart. This gave me ample opportunities to capture the flavour of the park using my digital camera. Citrus fruit means Florida so I would have been disappointed to not see any citrus trees.

Many of the well manicured lawns had orange trees. Orange trees are not particularly large trees but they are rather pretty. The bright orange fruit set against the green foliage is enough to get those taste buds in action! These trees were heavily laden with fruit and we did enjoy a couple of fresh picked oranges while we were there. We also enjoyed fresh, in season strawberries! Oh how I would have loved to bring both fresh strawberries and oranges home. Unfortunately those pesky customs restrictions prevented me from doing so.

Guest House Kitchen

As Canadians we tend to have a rather snobbish attitude towards trailers aka manufactured homes. If someone says they live in a double wide visions of Cops and similar shows flash through our minds. If that isn't enough we also get a good dose of American news so really trailer parks have a negative connotation. However this negativity doesn't not apply to this type of gated, high security resort.

We stayed in the guest house for about half of our stay. More pictures will be My Journey later this week. I love checking out kitchens! I'm always looking for what I can incorporate into our kitchen, what I like and what I don't like. Pictured is the guest house kitchen that is about the same square footage as our home kitchen. The fridge and stove were lower end GE and if there was an EnergyStar® sticker on the fridge it had been removed. There was no dishwasher something we discovered many of the homes did not have. There was a garburator. The countertops were laminate with a painted edge. All in all it was a nice kitchen aesthetically and functionally. If it were mine I would be making a few upgrades.

New York Strip Steak

We ate the majority of our meals at Big Cypress Grill. This quality on site restaurant caters exclusively to the residents and guests [of residents] of Cypress Lakes. They do not offer a breakfast menu. The kitchen closes at 4 PM on Mondays and 6 PM on Wednesdays. The lunch menu is available daily except Sundays. The Big Cypress Grill has daily dinner specials on the days they serve dinner. You can tune to their private television channel to view the specials prior to going down to the clubhouse. This is a rather nice feature allowing you to check the specials before heading to the clubhouse as the specials do change from time to time. Saturday's dinner specials were New York Strip Steak ($12.49), Chicken Tortellini with Gorgonzola cream ($10.99) and Grilled Salmon ($11.99).

My husband had the New York Strip Steak cooked medium rare. The lovely sized steak came cooked to perfection and topped with a fresh tomato salsa. Sides were tossed salad, sautéed zucchini wedges and mashed potatoes. He gave the meal his sign of approval!

Grilled Salmon

I ordered the grilled salmon. The large piece of nicely grilled salmon came on a bed of mashed potatoes or rice. I chose the mashed potatoes. The salmon was topped with a rather sweetish but spicy fruit chutney with walnuts that complimented the salmon nicely. Sides were tossed salad and sautéed zucchini wedges. This really was a lovely dish that could easily be duplicated at home.

Salmon is a very easy to prepare fish whether steamed, broiled, baked or grilled. For best results choose wild salmon rather than farmed salmon. Farmed salmon is fattier (up to 52% more fat) than wild and it contains higher levels of PCB and artificial colourants. While farmed salmon is cheaper in price, wild salmon is higher in quality. Salmon being a stronger flavoured fish melds nicely with sweet and spicy chutneys and particularly any sauce maple syrup based.

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